Gospel Lection for March 9 2014; Matthew 4:1-11, comments on the Greek text

Gospel Lection for March 9 2014

Matthew 4:1-11, comments on the Greek text

Mt 4:1   Τότε ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἀνήχθη εἰς τὴν ἔρημον ὑπὸ τοῦ πνεύματος, πειρασθῆναι[A] ὑπὸ τοῦ διαβόλου. Then Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit, to be tempted by the devil.
Mt 4:2   καὶ νηστεύσας ἡμέρας[B] τεσσεράκοντα καὶ νύκτας τεσσεράκοντα ὕστερον[C] ἐπείνασεν. And after having fasted forty days and nights, later he was hungry.
Mt 4:3   καὶ προσελθὼν ὁ πειράζων εἶπεν αὐτῷ· Εἰ[D] υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ θεοῦ, εἰπὲ ἵνα οἱ λίθοι οὗτοι ἄρτοι γένωνται. And coming forward, the tempter said to him, “If you are the Son of God, speak, so that these stones may become bread.”
Mt 4:4   ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν· Γέγραπται· Οὐκ ἐπ’ ἄρτῳ μόνῳ ζήσεται ὁ ἄνθρωπος, ἀλλ’ ἐπὶ παντὶ ῥήματι ἐκπορευομένῳ διὰ[E] στόματος θεοῦ. But he said in response, “It is written, the human shall not live on bread alone, but on every work proceeding through [the] mouth of God.”
Mt 4:5   Τότε παραλαμβάνει[F] αὐτὸν ὁ διάβολος εἰς τὴν ἁγίαν πόλιν, καὶ ἔστησεν αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τὸ πτερύγιον τοῦ ἱεροῦ, Then the devil takes him into the holy city, and stood him on the pinnacle of the temple.
Mt 4:6   καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ· Εἰ υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ θεοῦ, βάλε σεαυτὸν κάτω· γέγραπται γὰρ ὅτι[G] Τοῖς ἀγγέλοις αὐτοῦ ἐντελεῖται περὶ σοῦ καὶ ἐπὶ χειρῶν ἀροῦσίν σε, μήποτε προσκόψῃς πρὸς λίθον τὸν πόδα σου. And he says to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and on [their] hands they will carry you, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
Mt 4:7   ἔφη αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· Πάλιν γέγραπται· Οὐκ ἐκπειράσεις κύριον τὸν θεόν σου. Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not test [the] Lord your God.’”
Mt 4:8   Πάλιν παραλαμβάνει αὐτὸν ὁ διάβολος εἰς ὄρος ὑψηλὸν λίαν, καὶ δείκνυσιν αὐτῷ πάσας τὰς βασιλείας τοῦ κόσμου καὶ τὴν δόξαν αὐτῶν Again the devil takes him to an exceedingly high mountain, and shows him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.
Mt 4:9   καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· Ταῦτά σοι πάντα δώσω, ἐὰν πεσὼν προσκυνήσῃς[H] μοι. And he said to him, “All these things I will give to you, if falling [down] you worship me.”
Mt 4:10 τότε λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· Ὕπαγε, Σατανᾶ· γέγραπται γάρ· Κύριον τὸν θεόν σου προσκυνήσεις καὶ αὐτῷ μόνῳ λατρεύσεις[I]. Then Jesus says to him, “Go [away], Satan.  for it is written, ‘You shall worship [the] Lord your God, and him alone shall you serve.’”
Mt 4:11 τότε ἀφίησιν αὐτὸν ὁ διάβολος, καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄγγελοι προσῆλθον καὶ διηκόνουν[J] αὐτῷ. Then the devil leaves him, and look, angels came and began to serve him.

[A] The verb can have a neutral connotation (“tested”) or a negative one (“tempted.”)  It’s a bit ambiguous which is intended here.  The infinitive does not express purposes quite as strongly as a ινα clause would here.

[B] Accusative case with expressions of time indicates duration, answering “how long?”

[C] The aorist case of νηστεύσας already indicates that the fasting took place before the action of the main verb, but this word emphasizes this temporal sequencing.  Cf. the accounts in both Mark and Luke, where the temptation occurs throughout the 40 days of fasting.

[D] The most natural reading of this word is that it assumes the truth of what is being postulated.  “Since” would also be a possible rendering.  The text is not conveying that the Devil is trying to get Jesus to prove to a skeptic that he is the Son of God.

[E] “Through” is a much more commonly attested meaning here than “from,” which the translations tend to prefer (relying more heavily on the previous ἐκπορευομένῳ).  The text here follows the Septuagint of Deut. 8:3.

[F] As happens frequently in Greek narrative, the tense switches to the present for the sake of vividness.  I have translated literally here and throughout this passage.

[G] Here ὅτι is introducing a direct, rather than in indirect quotation (i.e., using “that”).  In Greek, both are possible.

[H] The verb carries the connotation of prostrating oneself before another.

[I] Serve in a cultic or worshipful sense.

[J] An inchoative imperfect, indicating the beginning of continuing action.  The word is commonly used of waiting tables, and carries the connotation of bringing him food.

Advertisements

March 9 2014 Epistle Lectionary, First Sunday in Lent; Romans 5:12-19

March 9 2014 Epistle Lectionary, First Sunday in Lent

Romans 5:12-19

Ro 5:12 Διὰ τοῦτο ὥσπερ δι’ ἑνὸς ἀνθρώπου ἡ ἁμαρτία εἰς τὸν κόσμον εἰσῆλθεν καὶ διὰ τῆς ἁμαρτίας ὁ θάνατος, καὶ οὕτως εἰς πάντας ἀνθρώπους ὁ θάνατος διῆλθεν ἐφ’ ᾧ[A] πάντες ἥμαρτον— Therefore, just as through one person sin entered into the world, and through sin, death [entered into the world,] and thus death spread to all people, because of which all sinned—
Ro 5:13 ἄχρι γὰρ νόμου ἁμαρτία ἦν ἐν κόσμῳ, ἁμαρτία δὲ οὐκ ἐλλογεῖται[B] μὴ ὄντος νόμου, For until the law [came], sin was in [the] world, but sin is not reckoned when law does not exist.
Ro 5:14 ἀλλὰ ἐβασίλευσεν ὁ θάνατος[C] ἀπὸ Ἀδὰμ μέχρι Μωϋσέως καὶ ἐπὶ τοὺς μὴ ἁμαρτήσαντας ἐπὶ τῷ ὁμοιώματι[D] τῆς παραβάσεως Ἀδάμ, ὅς ἐστιν τύπος τοῦ μέλλοντος. But death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned after the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the coming one.
Ro 5:15 Ἀλλ’ οὐχ ὡς τὸ παράπτωμα, οὕτως καὶ τὸ χάρισμα[E]· εἰ γὰρ τῷ τοῦ ἑνὸς παραπτώματι[F] οἱ πολλοὶ ἀπέθανον, πολλῷ μᾶλλον ἡ χάρις τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἡ δωρεὰ ἐν χάριτι τῇ τοῦ ἑνὸς ἀνθρώπου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς τοὺς πολλοὺς ἐπερίσσευσεν. But the gift is not like the transgression.  For if by the transgression of the one, the many died, by how much more did the grace of God and the gift abound in [the] grace of the one human, Jesus Christ, to the many?
Ro 5:16 καὶ οὐχ ὡς δι’ ἑνὸς ἁμαρτήσαντος τὸ δώρημα· τὸ μὲν γὰρ κρίμα ἐξ ἑνὸς εἰς κατάκριμα, τὸ δὲ χάρισμα ἐκ[G] πολλῶν παραπτωμάτων εἰς δικαίωμα. And the gift was not like [what came] through the one who sinned.  On the one hand, the judgment [came] from one resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand, the gift, after many transgressions, results in righteousness.
Ro 5:17 εἰ γὰρ τῷ τοῦ ἑνὸς παραπτώματι ὁ θάνατος ἐβασίλευσεν διὰ τοῦ ἑνός, πολλῷ μᾶλλον οἱ τὴν περισσείαν τῆς χάριτος καὶ τῆς δωρεᾶς[H] τῆς δικαιοσύνης λαμβάνοντες ἐν ζωῇ βασιλεύσουσιν διὰ τοῦ ἑνὸς Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. For if, by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, by how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one Jesus Christ?
Ro 5:18 Ἄρα οὖν ὡς δι’ ἑνὸς παραπτώματος εἰς πάντας ἀνθρώπους εἰς κατάκριμα, οὕτως καὶ δι’ ἑνὸς δικαιώματος εἰς πάντας ἀνθρώπους εἰς δικαίωσιν ζωῆς·[I] So then, just as, [death/sin came] through one transgression, to all people, resulting in condemnation, so also [the gift came] through one righteous act, to all people, resulting in righteousness of life.
Ro 5:19 ὥσπερ γὰρ διὰ τῆς παρακοῆς τοῦ ἑνὸς ἀνθρώπου ἁμαρτωλοὶ κατεστάθησαν οἱ πολλοί, οὕτως καὶ διὰ τῆς ὑπακοῆς τοῦ ἑνὸς δίκαιοι κατασταθήσονται οἱ πολλοί.[J] for just as, though the disobedience of the one person, many were caused [to be] sinners, so also through the obedience of the one, the many will be caused to be righteous.

[A] A notoriously difficult prepositional phrase to render here.  One question has to do with the antecedent of the relative pronoun ᾧ.  Grammatically, it could be either “death” in the previous clause, or more remotely, it could be “one person” in the earlier phrase.  Or it could be a general relative pronoun alluding to the entire earlier discussion.  In this case, we could translate “on the basis of which” or “in that” indicating cause (which most translations adopt), or “in addition to which,” suggesting that universal sinfulness is an “add-on” to death spreading to all.  Or it may mean, as I have rendered, that universal sinfulness is the result of death spreading to all.  This is the closest antecedent to the relative pronoun.  But the grammar is probably too complex to settle the matter by itself, and I’m not terribly confident of this translation.

[B] An accounting term—might be be rendered here “counted.”

[C] So even when sin does not “count,” death still reigns.

[D] In light of the previous verse, we should probably assume that “after the likeness of the transgression of Adam” means “in disobedience to an explicit command” (i.e., a violation of “law”) or something similar.

[E] Literally, “but not as the transgression, so also the gift.”

[F] Dative of means.

[G] Note the parallel uses of ἐκ in this verse, though as I have translated, I think there is a shift in nuance in the two uses.  But the Greek is more fully parallel than an English translation can render here.  Literally, the phrases are rendered, “the judgment from one into condemnation, and the gift, from many transgressions, into righteousness.”

[H] Note that the genitive cases require a “double abundance”—an abundance of grace and of [the] gift of righteousness.

[I] I’ve tried to preserve Paul’s highly elliptical speech here in my translation.

[J] Paul probably switched to “the many” in this verse to avoid the potentially universalistic interpretation of εἰς πάντας ἀνθρώπους in the previous verse.  In both verses, however, there remains some tension, since in this verse, the use of “the many” makes the universality of human sinfulness more problematic (why not “all?”), whereas in the previous verse, the use of “to all people” seems to suggest a soteriological universalism, something we don’t find elsewhere in Paul.  Paul is juggling a lot of things at once here!

Epistle Lection, March 2, 2014; 2 Peter 1:16-21, Comments on the Greek text

Epistle Lection, March 2, 2014-02-17

2 Peter 1:16-21

2Pe 1:16 Οὐ γὰρ σεσοφισμένοις[A] μύθοις ἐξακολουθήσαντες[B] ἐγνωρίσαμεν ὑμῖν τὴν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ δύναμιν καὶ παρουσίαν[C], ἀλλ’ ἐπόπται γενηθέντες τῆς ἐκείνου μεγαλειότητος[D]. For we were not following cleverly crafted myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of that one’s majesty.
2Pe 1:17 λαβὼν γὰρ παρὰ θεοῦ πατρὸς τιμὴν καὶ δόξαν φωνῆς ἐνεχθείσης αὐτῷ τοιᾶσδε ὑπὸ τῆς μεγαλοπρεποῦς δόξης· Ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός μου οὗτός ἐστιν, εἰς ὃν ἐγὼ εὐδόκησα[E]— For having received from God [the] Father honor and glory, such a voice was borne to him by the majestic glory:  This is my son, my beloved, in whom I have become well pleased.”
2Pe 1:18 καὶ ταύτην τὴν φωνὴν ἡμεῖς ἠκούσαμεν ἐξ οὐρανοῦ ἐνεχθεῖσαν[F] σὺν αὐτῷ ὄντες ἐν τῷ ἁγίῳ ὄρει. And we heard this voice, borne from heaven, [since or when] we were with him in the holy mountain.
2Pe1:19 καὶ ἔχομεν βεβαιότερον τὸνπροφητικὸν λόγον, ᾧ καλῶς ποιεῖτε προσέχοντες ὡς λύχνῳ φαίνοντι ἐν αὐχμηρῷ τόπῳ, ἕως οὗ ἡμέρα διαυγάσῃ καὶ φωσφόρος ἀνατείλῃ ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν· And we hold more firmly the prophetic word, which you do well to hold fast to, like a shining lamp in a dark place, until a day dawns  and a morning star rises in your hearts
2Pe 1:20 τοῦτο πρῶτον γινώσκοντες ὅτι πᾶσα προφητεία γραφῆς ἰδίας[G] ἐπιλύσεως οὐ[H] γίνεται[I], [And] we know this first [and foremost], that no prophecy of Scripture is [a matter] of one’s own [private] interpretation,
2Pe 1:21 οὐ γὰρ θελήματι ἀνθρώπου ἠνέχθη προφητεία ποτέ[J], ἀλλὰ ὑπὸ πνεύματος ἁγίου φερόμενοι ἐλάλησαν ἀπὸ θεοῦ[K] ἄνθρωποι. For prophecy was never borne by the will of a human being; rather,  people borne by [the] Holy Spirit spoke from God.

[A] Literally “sophisticated.”

[B] The same word that is used for following as discipleship—an alternate discipleship is envisioned here.

[C] Could be either “presence,” focusing on immanence, or “coming,” focusing on the return of Christ.

[D] or “greatness,” “splendor.”

[E] Slightly unexpected use of aorist.  Literally “I was well pleased.”

[F] Note the same verb as the previous verse, as well as verse 21 in two different forms (ἠνέχθη and φερόμενοι).

[G] “personal” or “private.”

[H] Note the way that negatives work with “all” in Greek, which is different than in English.  Hence the non-literal translation here.

[I] or “does not become”

[J] οὐ . . . ποτέ means “never”

[K] I.e., the meaning is “carried” by the speaker, not by the hearer.

Feb. 23, 2014 Gospel Lection; Matthew 5:38-48; Comments on the Greek text

Feb. 23, 2014 Gospel Lection

Matthew 5:38-48

Mt 5:38 Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη· Ὀφθαλμὸν ἀντὶ[A] ὀφθαλμοῦ καὶ ὀδόντα ἀντὶ ὀδόντος. You heard that it was said, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
Mt 5:39 ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν μὴ ἀντιστῆναι τῷ πονηρῷ[B]· ἀλλ’ ὅστις σε[C] ῥαπίζει εἰς[D] τὴν δεξιὰν σιαγόνα, στρέψον αὐτῷ καὶ τὴν ἄλλην· But I tell you not to oppose the evil one, but whoever strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him also the other [one].
Mt 5:40 καὶ τῷ θέλοντί σοι κριθῆναι καὶ τὸν χιτῶνά[E] σου λαβεῖν, ἄφες[F] αὐτῷ καὶ τὸ ἱμάτιον[G]· And to the one who wants to go to court with you and to take your tunic, allow him also the cloak.
Mt 5:41 καὶ ὅστις σε ἀγγαρεύσει[H] μίλιον ἕν, ὕπαγε μετ’ αὐτοῦ δύο. And whoever compels you [to go] one mile, go with him two.
Mt 5:42 τῷ αἰτοῦντί[I] σε δός, καὶ τὸν θέλοντα ἀπὸ σοῦ δανίσασθαι μὴ ἀποστραφῇς.[J] Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away the one seeking to borrow from you.
Mt 5:43 Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη· Ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου καὶ μισήσεις τὸν ἐχθρόν σου. You heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and you shall hate your enemy.”
Mt 5:44 ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε[K] τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν καὶ προσεύχεσθε ὑπὲρ τῶν διωκόντων ὑμᾶς· But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Mt 5:45 ὅπως γένησθε[L] υἱοὶ τοῦ πατρὸς ὑμῶν τοῦ ἐν οὐρανοῖς, ὅτι τὸν ἥλιον αὐτοῦ ἀνατέλλει ἐπὶ [M]πονηροὺς καὶ ἀγαθοὺς καὶ βρέχει ἐπὶ δικαίους[N] καὶ ἀδίκους. So that you may become sons [and daughters] of your father who is in [the] heavens.  Because he causes the sun to rise on [the] wicked and [the] good, and he sends rain on [the] righteous and unrighteous.
Mt 5:46 ἐὰν γὰρ ἀγαπήσητε[O] τοὺς ἀγαπῶντας ὑμᾶς, τίνα μισθὸν ἔχετε; οὐχὶ καὶ οἱ τελῶναι τὸ αὐτὸ ποιοῦσιν; For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?  Do not even the tax collectors do the same thing?
Mt 5:47 καὶ ἐὰν ἀσπάσησθε τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς ὑμῶν μόνον, τί περισσὸν[P] ποιεῖτε; οὐχὶ[Q] καὶ οἱ ἐθνικοὶ τὸ αὐτὸ ποιοῦσιν; And if you greet only your brothers [and sisters], what are you doing [that is] remarkable?  Do not even the gentiles do the same thing?
Mt 5:48 Ἔσεσθε οὖν ὑμεῖς τέλειοι[R] ὡς ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος τέλειός ἐστιν. Therefore, you shall be complete, as your heavenly Father is complete.

[A] Literally “in place of.”

[B] Ambiguous in the Greek alone as to whether this is The Evil One, or just someone who is evil.

[C] Note the prominence of the singular “you” throughout this text, which focuses here on the individual response.

[D] Literally “strikes you into the right cheek.”

[E] The bottom layer worn against the skin

[F] The focus here is not so much on active giving as on non-resistance.

[G] An outer garment.

[H] Cf. Matt 27:32, where the same verb occurs.

[I] Should we emphasize the present tense (“give to the one who continually asks you”)?

[J] One form for prohibitions in Greek is μὴ + the aorist subjunctive, as we see here

[K] Note both imperatives in this verse are present tense, indicating continuous, repeated, or habitual action that is commanded.  Note also that from this point onward, we have commands using you-plural, rather than the singular, as in the earlier verses.

[L] “Be” or “become” here?  Is love for enemies the means by which we become children of God, or the means by which our identity as children of God is made evident?  The Greek could be translated either way, though the verb is stronger than the regular form of the verb “to be” (εἰμί).

[M] The absence of definite articles gives a generalizing force here.

[N] Or “just and unjust.”

[O] Love in the sense of devotion and loyalty.

[P] Literally, “What more are you doing (than anyone else)?”

[Q] And the expected answer, of course, is “yes.”

[R] Not easy to translate, but “perfect” doesn’t quite do it.  The focus is not on the absence of defect, but rather on the full actualization  of all that is required.

Epistle Lection, Feb. 23, 2014; Comments on the Greek Text; 1 Cor 3:10-11, 16-23

Epistle Lection, Feb. 23, 2014; Comments on the Greek Text

1 Cor 3:10-11, 16-23

1Co 3:10 Κατὰ τὴν χάριν τοῦ θεοῦ τὴν δοθεῖσάν μοι ὡς σοφὸς ἀρχιτέκτων[A] θεμέλιον ἔθηκα, ἄλλος δὲ ἐποικοδομεῖ. ἕκαστος δὲ βλεπέτω πῶς ἐποικοδομεῖ· According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I set a foundation, but another is building on [it].  Let each one watch how he [or she] builds on [it].
1Co 3:11 θεμέλιον γὰρ ἄλλον οὐδεὶς δύναται θεῖναι παρὰ[B] τὸν κείμενον[C], ὅς ἐστιν Ἰησοῦς Χριστός· For no one is able to set another foundation, other than the one [already] laid, who is Jesus Christ.
1Co 3:16 Οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ναὸς[D] θεοῦ ἐστε καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ θεοῦ οἰκεῖ ἐν[E] ὑμῖν; Don’t you know that y’all are God’s temple and the Spirit of God dwells among you?
1Co 3:17 εἴ τις τὸν ναὸν τοῦ θεοῦ φθείρει[F], φθερεῖ τοῦτον ὁ θεός· ὁ γὰρ ναὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ἅγιός ἐστιν, οἵτινές ἐστε ὑμεῖς[G]. If someone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy that [one].  For the temple of God is holy, [and that is] who you are.
1Co 3:18 Μηδεὶς ἑαυτὸν ἐξαπατάτω[H]· εἴ τις δοκεῖ[I] σοφὸς εἶναι ἐν ὑμῖν ἐν τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, μωρὸς γενέσθω, ἵνα γένηται σοφός, Let no one deceive himself.  If someone seems to be wise among you in this age, let him [or her] become a fool, so that he [or she] may become wise.
1Co 3:19 ἡ γὰρ σοφία τοῦ κόσμου τούτου μωρία παρὰ[J] τῷ θεῷ ἐστιν· γέγραπται γάρ· Ὁ δρασσόμενος τοὺς σοφοὺς ἐν τῇ πανουργίᾳ[K] αὐτῶν· For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the sight of God.  For it is written, “The one who catches the wise ones in their cunning.”
1Co 3:20 καὶ πάλιν· Κύριος γινώσκει τοὺς διαλογισμοὺς[L] τῶν σοφῶν ὅτι εἰσὶν μάταιοι.[M] And again, “[The] Lord knows the disputations of the wise—that they are empty.
1Co 3:21 ὥστε μηδεὶς καυχάσθω[N] ἐν[O] ἀνθρώποις· πάντα γὰρ ὑμῶν ἐστιν,[P] So then, let no one boast in human beings, for all things are yours,
1Co 3:22 εἴτε[Q] Παῦλος εἴτε Ἀπολλῶς εἴτε Κηφᾶς εἴτε κόσμος εἴτε ζωὴ εἴτε θάνατος εἴτε ἐνεστῶτα εἴτε μέλλοντα, πάντα ὑμῶν, whether Paul, whether Apollos, whether Cephas, whether [the] world, whether life, whether death, whether [things] present, whether [things] coming—all things [are] yours,
1Co 3:23 ὑμεῖς δὲ Χριστοῦ, Χριστὸς δὲ θεοῦ. and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

[A] or “architect.”

[B] or “beside”

[C] or “the one that is presently lying [there]”

[D] The word refers not to the entire temple precinct, but to the shrine—the main building housing the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies.”  NT Wright in his magnum opus Paul and the Faithfulness of God points out that this is a massive shift in thinking about the Temple—particularly noteworthy in that it takes place before the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD.  In Paul’s thinking, the physical Temple has morphed into the Christian community.

[E] Or “in you.”  I translated “among” because that is the more natural reading, and most folks these days tend to overly individualize the text.

[F] or “corrupts,” though that doesn’t quite work with the second usage later in this verse.

[G] Note again the collective plurals here.

[H] The implication, of course, is that some of the Corinthians may in fact be deceiving theselves!

[I] Could be either “seems to be wise” or “thinks he is wise.”

[J] or “in the presence of God.”

[K] Not a nice word to link with “wise.”  Literally “in their readiness to do anything [to achieve their goals].”

[L] Or “thoughts” if one wants to interpret more individually.

[M] Cf. the cognate form in the Septuagint version of Ecclesiastes.

[N] Paul uses this word 26 times in the Corinthian correspondence alone!  It’s a big issue for these Christians.

[O] Or “let no one among human beings boast.”

[P] The drive for higher status shifts when you have everything already!

[Q] I translated all these literally, to bring out the somewhat ponderous nature of the verse.

Matthew 5:21-37 Gospel Lection Feb. 16, 2014

Feb 16, 2014-01-29

Matthew 5:21-37

Comments on the Greek Text

Mt 5:21 Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη τοῖς ἀρχαίοις· Οὐ φονεύσεις[A]· ὃς δ’ ἂν φονεύσῃ, ἔνοχος ἔσται τῇ κρίσει[B]. You heard that it was said to the ancient ones, “You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.”
Mt 5:22 ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι πᾶς ὁ ὀργιζόμενος τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ ἔνοχος ἔσται τῇ κρίσει· ὃς δ’ ἂν εἴπῃ τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ· Ῥακά[C], ἔνοχος ἔσται τῷ συνεδρίῳ[D]· ὃς δ’ ἂν εἴπῃ· Μωρέ[E], ἔνοχος ἔσται εἰς τὴν γέενναν[F] τοῦ πυρός. But I tell you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.  Whoever ways to his brother, “Idiot,” will be liable to the Sanhedrin.  And whoever says, “Moron” will be liable to the Hell of fire.
Mt 5:23 ἐὰν οὖν προσφέρῃς τὸ δῶρόν σου ἐπὶ τὸ θυσιαστήριον κἀκεῖ μνησθῇς ὅτι ὁ ἀδελφός σου ἔχει τι κατὰ σοῦ[G], So if you are offering your gift on the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you,
Mt 5:24 ἄφες ἐκεῖ τὸ δῶρόν σου ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου καὶ ὕπαγε πρῶτον διαλλάγηθι τῷ ἀδελφῷ σου, καὶ τότε ἐλθὼν πρόσφερε τὸ δῶρόν σου. leave your gift there before the altar, and go, first be reconciled with your brother, and then coming [back], offer your gift.
Mt 5:25 ἴσθι εὐνοῶν[H] τῷ ἀντιδίκῳ[I] σου ταχὺ ἕως ὅτου εἶ μετ’ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ, μήποτέ σε παραδῷ ὁ ἀντίδικος τῷ κριτῇ, καὶ ὁ κριτὴς τῷ ὑπηρέτῃ, καὶ εἰς φυλακὴν βληθήσῃ·[J] Make friends with your adversary quickly during the time you are with him in the road, lest the adversary hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the assistant, and you are thrown into jail.
Mt 5:26 ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, οὐ μὴ ἐξέλθῃς ἐκεῖθεν ἕως ἂν ἀποδῷς τὸν ἔσχατον κοδράντην.[K] Truly I tell you, you will surely not go out from there until you pay back the last penny.
Mt 5:27 Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη· Οὐ μοιχεύσεις. You heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.”
Mt 5:28 ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι πᾶς ὁ βλέπων γυναῖκα πρὸς[L] τὸ ἐπιθυμῆσαι αὐτὴν ἤδη ἐμοίχευσεν αὐτὴν ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ.[M] But I tell you that everyone who looks at a woman for the purpose of desiring her [lustfully] already committed adultery [with] her in his heart.
Mt 5:29 εἰ δὲ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου ὁ δεξιὸς σκανδαλίζει[N] σε, ἔξελε αὐτὸν καὶ βάλε ἀπὸ σοῦ, συμφέρει γάρ σοι ἵνα ἀπόληται ἓν τῶν μελῶν[O] σου καὶ μὴ ὅλον τὸ σμά σου βληθῇ εἰς γέενναν. And if your right eye causes you to sin, take it out and throw it [away] from you.  For it is better for you that one of your body parts is destroyed, and your whole body is not thrown into Hell.
Mt 5:30 καὶ εἰ ἡ δεξιά σου χεὶρ σκανδαλίζει σε, ἔκκοψον αὐτὴν καὶ βάλε ἀπὸ σοῦ, συμφέρει γάρ σοι ἵνα ἀπόληται ἓν τῶν μελῶν σου καὶ μὴ ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου εἰς γέενναν ἀπέλθῃ. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw [it away] from you, for it is better for you that one of your body parts is destroyed, and your whole body does not depart into Hell.
Mt 5:31 Ἐρρέθη δέ· Ὃς ἂν ἀπολύσῃ τὴν γυναῖκα[P] αὐτοῦ, δότω αὐτῇ ἀποστάσιον. It was said, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.”
Mt 5:32 ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι πᾶς ὁ ἀπολύων τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ παρεκτὸς λόγου[Q] πορνείας[R] ποιεῖ αὐτὴν μοιχευθῆναι, καὶ ὃς ἐὰν ἀπολελυμένην γαμήσῃ μοιχᾶται. But I tell you that everyone who divorces his wife (apart from a case of sexual immorality) makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced [woman] commits adultery.
Mt 5:33 Πάλιν ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη τοῖς ἀρχαίοις· Οὐκ ἐπιορκήσεις[S], ἀποδώσεις[T] δὲ τῷ κυρίῳ τοὺς ὅρκους σου. Again, you heard that it was said to the ancient ones, “You shall not make a false vow, but you shall give back to the Lord your vows.”
Mt 5:34 ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν μὴ ὀμόσαι ὅλως· μήτε ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὅτι θρόνος ἐστὶν τοῦ θεοῦ· But I tell you not to take an oath at all,  neither by heaven, since it is the throne of God,
Mt 5:35 μήτε ἐν τῇ γῇ, ὅτι ὑποπόδιόν ἐστιν τῶν ποδῶν αὐτοῦ· μήτε εἰς[U] Ἱεροσόλυμα, ὅτι πόλις ἐστὶν τοῦ μεγάλου βασιλέως· nor by earth, since it is the footstool of his feet, nor toward Jerusalem, since it is the city of the great king.
Mt 5:36 μήτε ἐν τῇ κεφαλῇ σου ὀμόσῃς, ὅτι οὐ δύνασαι μίαν τρίχα λευκὴν ποιῆσαι ἢ μέλαιναν. Neither shall you take an oath by [i.e. invoking] your head, since you can’t make one hair white or black.
Mt 5:37 ἔστω δὲ ὁ λόγος[V] ὑμῶν ναὶ ναί, οὒ οὔ· τὸ δὲ περισσὸν τούτων ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ[W] ἐστιν. Let your “yes” statement be “yes,” and your “no” be “no.”  What is beyond these [statements] is from the evil [one].

[A] This is the same word that is used in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible used in Jesus’ day, and it tends to have the more specific connotation of murder.  Greek has another word that is more generic for any sort of killing:  ἀποκτείνω.  But that’s not what we have here.

[B] The word can have either a neutral connotation (“judgment”) or a negative one (“condemnation”).

[C] The Aramaic word here literally connotes “empty” or “empty-headed.”

[D] The word can also connote a more generic council, rather than the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, though in light of Jesus’ love of hyperbole, I wonder whether that more specific reference is in view.

[E] The Greek word for “fool.”

[F]Literally the valley of Hinnom, a ravine south of Jerusalem where God’s final judgment was supposed in some texts to take place.   In the gospels, this is commonly used of the place of punishment in the next life—Hell.

[G] Note that it’s the perpetrator, not the victim, who is in view here.  The other side comes into view in Matthew 18:15ff., when the one who is sinned against is called to initiate the reconciliation process.

[H] Literally “be of a good mind.”

[I] Adversaries are not usually among the folks we are most inclined to make friends with!

[J] Again here, the assumption is that the person addressed is the perpetrator, not the victim.

[K] An interesting prudential sort of argument:  reconciliation will make your life easier than it would be otherwise.

[L] προς with the infinitive commonly expresses purposes in Greek.

[M] Hence the inclination to a sinful act is as culpable as the sinful act itself.  This is one of the things that makes me quite hesitant about the way in which so many want to distinguish between same-sex orientation (OK) and same-sex behavior (not OK).  I don’t think Jesus lets us get away with that sort of distinction.

[N] Often in Matthew, this verb is used of people inappropriately taking offense at Jesus.  But cf. 18:6ff. for another strong rejection of anything which genuinely causes another to stumble.

[O] Literally “members” which in English doesn’t always still carry the connotation of “body parts.”

[P] The same Greek word can mean “wife” or “woman,” depending on context.

[Q] The word is flexible enough to mean either “case” or “charge.”

[R] A general word for sexual immorality of a variety of sorts.  Cf. Mark 10:11 which lacks this exception clause.  Some commentators say that Mark simply presupposes this.  Others argue that Matthew softens Jesus’ strong convicting statement to make it more practical in a community seeking to implement this teaching in difficult circumstances.

[S] Or “swear falsely,” “perjure oneself.”

[T] Could be either “give back” or “pay back.”

[U] Note the shift in pronoun with this last clause.

[V] Or more literally, “Let your yes-word be yes.”

[W] or “from an evil [motive].”

1 Corinthians 3:1-9, Comments on the Greek text; Epistle lection Feb. 16, 2014

Epistle Lection, Feb 16, 2014

1 Corinthians 3:1-9

1Co 3:1 Κἀγώ, ἀδελφοί, οὐκ ἠδυνήθην λαλῆσαι ὑμῖν ὡς πνευματικοῖς[A] ἀλλ’ ὡς σαρκίνοις, ὡς νηπίοις[B] ἐν Χριστῷ. And I, brothers [and sisters] was not able to speak to you as to spiritual [people], but as to fleshly [ones], as to babies in Christ.
1Co 3:2 γάλα ὑμᾶς ἐπότισα, οὐ βρῶμα, οὔπω γὰρ ἐδύνασθε. ἀλλ’ οὐδὲ ἔτι νῦν δύνασθε, I gave you milk to drink, not food, for you were not yet able [to eat solid food.]  Indeed, even now you are still not able.
1Co 3:3 ἔτι γὰρ σαρκικοί[C] ἐστε. ὅπου γὰρ ἐν ὑμῖν ζῆλος[D] καὶ ἔρις, οὐχὶ σαρκικοί ἐστε καὶ κατὰ ἄνθρωπον[E] περιπατεῖτε; For you are still fleshly.  For where there is jealousy and discord among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking in a [merely] human [way]?
1Co 3:4 ὅταν γὰρ λέγῃ τις· Ἐγὼ μέν εἰμι Παύλου[F], ἕτερος δέ· Ἐγὼ Ἀπολλῶ, οὐκ ἄνθρωποί ἐστε; For when someone says, “I am of Paul,” and another [says] “I am of Apollos,” are you not [merely] human?
1Co 3:5 Τί οὖν ἐστιν Ἀπολλῶς; τί δέ ἐστιν Παῦλος; διάκονοι δι’ ὧν ἐπιστεύσατε, καὶ ἑκάστῳ[G] ὡς ὁ κύριος ἔδωκεν. What then is Apollos?  What is Paul?  Servants, through whom you believed, and to each one as the Lord gave.
1Co 3:6 ἐγὼ ἐφύτευσα, Ἀπολλῶς ἐπότισεν, ἀλλὰ ὁ θεὸς ηὔξανεν[H]· I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth.
1Co 3:7 ὥστε[I] οὔτε ὁ φυτεύων ἐστίν τι οὔτε ὁ ποτίζων, ἀλλ’ ὁ αὐξάνων[J] θεός. So then, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but rather God who causes the growth.
1Co 3:8 ὁ φυτεύων δὲ καὶ ὁ ποτίζων ἕν εἰσιν, ἕκαστος δὲ τὸν ἴδιον μισθὸν λήμψεται κατὰ τὸν ἴδιον κόπον[K], The one who plants and the one who waters are one; each will receive [his] own wage according to [his] own toil.
1Co 3:9 θεοῦ γάρ ἐσμεν συνεργοί· θεοῦ[L] γεώργιον, θεοῦ οἰκοδομή ἐστε. For we are God’s co-workers.  God’s field, God’s building [is what] you are.

[A] Note the extensive discussion in the previous chapter of the work of the Spirit.

[B] The Greek word can refer to young children from infancy through pre-puberty.  In this context, with the contrast between milk and solid food in the next verse, it’s probably a reference to nursing children—i.e. very young.

[C] A slightly different form from the form used in v. 1 (see the textual apparatus for variants), but there isn’t any significant difference in meaning.  This adjectival form is not terribly common in Paul—he tends to prefer the phrase κατὰ σάρκα.

[D] Or “zeal.”  The word can have either positive or negative connotations.  N.T. Wright, in his latest magnum opus Paul and the Faithfulness of God, makes a lot of Paul’s references to his own “zeal” prior to his Damascus road experience (e.g. Phil 3:6).

[E] It is interesting to scan the uses of this word in Paul.  While some are positive, a large number are negative, as we see here, connoting human life apart from divine grace.

[F] Could be a genitive of origin (I come from Paul), or a genitive of possession (I belong to Paul) or it could connote association (I am associated with Paul).

[G] Presumably to each [of these two leaders, as well as others.]  Could conceivably mean “by means of each one as the Lord gave.”

[H] Or possible “but God became greater,” though this is less likely.

[I] Grammatically, this sentence is the logical result or consequence of the previous one.

[J] Note the way in which the participial phrases are in parallel with each other.  Even more literally one might render, “So then, neither the planter is anything nor the waterer, but rather the grower – God.”

[K] The word usually has a negative connotation of activity that is burdensome in some way.

[L] Grammatically, the meaning could be rendered either co-workers in the service of God or co-workers with God.